Copyright 2011, The Hopelessly Hooked Genealogist (B. Harrison)
MASSACHUSETTS ROOTS: DISCOVERING MY PENN ANCESTRY – And connections to two famous Penn historical figures: the Founder of Pennsylvania and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
This blog post examines more closely my Penn, Lee, Tucker, Allen and Hudgens inter-connected ancestry on the paternal side of my tree, specifically the Penn lineage with roots in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia. While I have previously done quite a bit of research on the Virginia roots in the 1700’s of these surnames in my tree, and their westward movements into Kentucky and Missouri during the 1800’s, the Massachusetts connection in the Penn and Lee lineage is a “new” discovery for me. I am excited to discover there is apparently an early Plymouth, MA connection in my Penn line. This is something I will be exploring further, and will follow-up on in future blog posts.
For my own personal record and to help me keep the relationships straight and sorted out, I will now describe my kinship to the Penn and Lee families. Prepare to be confused, dear readers, because it does get confusing! That is one reason I am writing it down in other than standard tree-format, to serve as my own personal reference cheat-sheet guide to supplement my online tree.
My great-grandfather Valentine Allen, subject of an earlier blog post, was the 6th-great grandson of immigrant ancestor George Penn, son of William Penn I of England born 1548. William Penn I of Minety, Gloucestershire, England (father of my George Penn) was my 10th great-grandfather and also the great-grandfather of the historically famous William Penn, 14 Oct 1644 – 30 Jul 1718, founder and "Absolute Proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future American state of Pennsylvania. George Penn, born 1571 in England and son of William Penn I of Minety, Gloucestershire, England, is my 9th-great-grandfather, and the grand-uncle of William Penn founder of Pennsylvania (who is my 2nd cousin 9 times removed). George’s brother was Giles Penn, the Pennsylvania founder’s grandfather.
Sir William Penn, 1644- 1718, founder of Pennsylvania
As of this point in my research, it is reasonably substantiated that the above George Penn born 1571 is my immigrant ancestor of this line, who came from England to Plymouth, Massachussetts circa 1623. He died in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1632. The names George, William, Moses, and John were used so frequently in the Penn family throughout multiple generations in the same localities and time periods that it is difficult to sort them out, and it appears that even some of the “reliable” source books documenting the Penn ancestry and used by genealogists for decades tend to confuse them in the citations. There is little doubt, however, that these families are connected.
George and Anne Fleming Penn had daughter (my 5th great-grandmother) Frances “Frankey” Penn born 1735 in Caroline County, Virginia who married Ambrose Lee in 1752 , and married 2nd husband Drury Tucker in 1767. This part of the lineage is pretty well documented, but is also where it gets confusing. I am related by blood to Frances Penn and both of her husbands. My connection is two ways, (and the following is bound to give any reader a headache to sort it out because it certainly did me!): Frances Penn is the mother of my 4th-great-grandmother Nancy Lee, with Frances’ first husband Ambrose Lee. Frances Penn Lee’s daughter Nancy Lee born 1762 in Caroline County, Virginia married William Wofford Tucker (my 4th-great-grandfather and one of my Revolutionary War ancestors). Their daughter Susannah Tucker born 1792 in Albemarle, Virginia was my 3rd-great-grandmother who married William David Hudgens. ( To refer back to Susannah’s Tucker’s grandmother Frances Penn Lee, widow of Ambrose Lee, who married 2nd husband Drury Tucker, father of William Wofford Tucker and widower of Susannah Douglass: THUS, Frances Penn Lee married 2nd the father-in-law of her own daughter Nancy Lee who was married to William Wofford Tucker). Believe me when I say it was a Three Excedrin Headache Day to sort that confusing and overlapping branch of my tree out! Moving right along, the daughter of Susannah Tucker and William D Hudgens was my 2nd-great-grandmother Frances Hudgens, born 1811 in Lebanon, Kentucky who married Samuel T. Allen in Missouri. Their son, Valentine Allen born 1843 in Phelps County, Missouri was my great-grandfather who married Catherine Ellen Fore. Valentine and Catherine Fore Allen had a daughter, my paternal grandmother Susannah Allen born 1875 in Phelps County, Missouri who married my grandfather John P. Harrison.
So, in a nutshell, my branches of the Penn-Lee-Tucker-Hudgens-Allen lineage began in England in the 1500’s and earlier, to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in the 1600’s, to Virginia in the 1700’s, and to North Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri in the 1800’s where it intersects with my paternal Harrison and Allen lineage. Most of the movement to Kentucky can be traced to Kentucky land bounty warrants received by members of these families for their participation in the Revolutionary War. Some of the land bounties were sold; others were passed down to descendants of the Revolutionary War patriots. My branches of all of these families eventually migrated westward and continued on into Missouri in the mid-1800’s. Though I still have family roots in Missouri today, the tree has further branched out westward to California, Texas, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado.
Regarding the Penn lineage, I do note there is some controversy in online message board posts as to the connection of a William Penn who married an Elizabeth Markham, and their son John Penn who married a Lucy Granville, and how they actually relate to the Penn lineage of the founder of Pennsylvania and to the John Penn, signer of the Declaration of Independence. Though the lineage is cited in multiple published sources that have been used by genealogists for decades, it seems some questions have more recently arisen as to availability of marriage records or other primary source documents to support that link in the tree. Further research is needed to prove or disprove the lineage, as these two individuals do appear to be the same ones associated with my tree. However, the link does not appear any more questionable than probably dozens of others in my tree that have equally been accepted as factual-based by fellow researchers, distant cousins and genealogists for decades. As we all know, actual “proof” in genealogy gets more difficult the farther back in time we go. Previously published lineage books do contain errors and are not infallible. Even DNA testing is not a sure-fire proof of a direct lineage connection. (I will reserve my comments concerning DNA for genetic genealogy and my experience with Autosomal DNA testing, for another Blog post). I have only recently researched my branch of the Penn family tree lineage back prior to the Virginia roots, to the very early Pennsylvania and Massachusetts colonial connections. Nothing is ever “written in stone” as far as I am concerned, regarding lineage that is more than 2 or 3 generations removed from ourselves. All we can do as family historians is base our findings on a preponderance of evidence, while making a commitment to update our records and notations accordingly if we do discover potential errors.
I have previously posted a biographical sketch of my ancestor William Wofford Tucker, Revolutionary War Patriot and Colonial Army Captain from Virginia (whose wife was Nancy Lee, daughter of the Frances Penn Lee Tucker as mentioned above). Future separate individual blog posts will further examine my Tucker-Hudgens-Penn-Lee kin. It is much too confusing to try to combine all of that in one blog post! I will suffice to say, for now, that many interesting connections pop up in those branches of my tree. One such connection is that my above-referenced 4th-great-grandmother Nancy Lee Tucker was a distant relative of the Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee (which of course makes me a distant relative as well; according to the relationship calculator in my genealogy program the famous Confederate General is my 6th cousin, six times removed). It will take a whole separate Blog article to discuss my Lee ancestry in greater detail. It is always fun to discover connections to famous figures from history in one’s ancestral tree, however distant that kinship might be. Ultimately though, my quest remains to discover more about the not-so-famous figures in my tree as well, and to try to learn about them as individuals who led interesting and challenging lives.
General Robert E. Lee, CSA
The discovery of an early Massachusetts connection in these branches of my tree may also lead to breaking down a Brick Wall in my Allen lineage on the paternal side of my tree (I have Allen ancestors on both maternal and paternal sides). To date, I have been unable to discover the names of the parents of my paternal 2nd-great-grandfather Samuel T Allen who married Frances Hudgens. Very little is known about where Samuel T Allen came from, or what happened to him after he disappeared from Missouri circa 1850. However, a few vintage published sources I found on early Missouri history mention my Allen, Hudgens, and Harrison ancestors and state that Samuel T Allen came from Massachusetts. At least one of these published local history sources alluded to a “rumor” that Samuel’s disappearance from Missouri was due to either being killed by Indians, or that he may have returned to Massachusetts to reunite with family there, and where he possibly had another wife. Knowing that the Penn-Tucker-Lee-Hudgens-Allen families are so closely intertwined in my tree, and that at least one of those lines has documented early roots in Massachusetts, does lend more credence to the theory that my ancestor Samuel T Allen may in fact have had some family connections in Massachusetts.
So, the pursuit of further Massachusetts research on these family connections and surnames in my tree is now added to my Genealogy To-Do List. That list seems to keep growing, the more research I do. Lots of digging to do still; so many ancestors to chase down, so little time!
While it is not my intent to provide a research guide in this personal Blog, which is merely my own personal journal of my search for my roots; a few of the sources (among many others) of my information on Penn ancestry are listed below. (The bulk of my source citations are attached to my online tree, and include a stack of reference books I have collected in my personal library):
Ancestry.com. Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
Chalkley, Lyman. Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800. Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1965. Originally published in 1912.
Crozier, William Armstrong, ed. Virginia County Records - Spotsylvania County Records, 1721-1800. Being transcriptions from the original files at the County Court House of wills, deeds, administrators' and guardians' bonds, marriage licenses, and lists of revolutionary pensioners. New York, NY: Fox, Duffield & Co., 1905.
The will abstracts for Isle of Wight and Norfolk counties were taken from microfilmed copies of the original Will Books. Some of these records may be found at the Family History Library as well as other libraries and archives. The originals may be found at the appropriate county courthouses.
Gale Research. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010.
Original data: Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI, USA: Gale Research, 2010.